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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 146 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MZABITES, or BENI-MZAB, a confederation of Berber tribes, now under the direct authority of France. Of all the Berber peoples the Mzabites have remained freest from foreign admixture. Their own country is a region of the Algerian Sahara, about loo m. south of El-Aghuat. It consists of five oases close together, viz. Ghardaia, Beni-Isguen, El-Ateuf, Melika and Bu Nura, and two isolated oases farther north, Berrian and Guerrara. The total population numbered at the 1906 census 45,996, of whom about loo were Europeans and a very small proportion Arabs and Jews. The Mzabites are of small and slender figure, with very short necks and under-developed legs. Their faces are flat, with short nose, thick lips and very deep-set eyes, and their complexion pale. Their dress is a shirt of thick wool, usually many-coloured. They are agriculturists, and are also famed as traders. The butchers, fruiterers, bath-house keepers, road-sweepers and carriers of the African littoral from Tangier to Tripoli are nearly all Mzabites. Their industries, too, are highly organized. The Mzabite burnouses and carpets are found throughout North Africa. Their commercial honesty is proverbial. Nearly all read and write Arabic, though in talking among themselves they use the Zenata dialect of the Berber language, for which, in common with other Berber peoples, they have no written form surviving. They are Mahommedans, of the Ibadite sect, and are regarded as heretics by the Sunnites. According to tradition the Ibadites, after their overthrow at Tiaret by the Fatimites, took refuge during the loth century in the country to the south-west of Wargla, where they founded an independent state. In 1012, owing to further persecutions, they fled to their present quarters, where they long remained invulnerable. After the capture of El-Aghuat by the French, the Mzabites concluded with the Algerian government, in 1853, a convention by which they engaged to pay an annual contribution of £1800 in return for their independence. In November 1882 the Mzab country was definitely annexed to Algeria. Ghardaia (pop. 7868) is the capital of the confederation, and next in importance is Beni-Isguen (4916), the chief commercial centre. Since the establishment of French control, Beni- Isguen has become the dep6t for the sale of European goods. French engineers have rendered the oases much more fertile than they used to be by a system of irrigation works. (See also ALGERIA.) See A. Coyne, Le Mzab (Algiers, 1879) ; Rinn, Occupation du Mzab (Algiers, 1885) ; Amat, Le M'Zab et les M'Zabites (Paris, 1888). Also ALGERIA and BERBERS. D, Larva of Myzostoma glabrum. (After Beard.) E, Portion of the arm of Pentacrinus, showing a cyst containing Myzostoma. n, Ciliated tube (nephridium?). o, Opening. ov, Ovary. p, Parapodium. ph, Pharynx. s, Sense organ. sp, Sperm-sac. vn, Ventral ganglionic mass. d, Male opening. , Female opening. NA letter which regularly follows M in the alphabet, and, like it in its early forms has the first limb longer than the others; thus, written from right to left, A. The Semitic languages gradually diminish the size of the other two limbs, while the Greek and Latin alphabets tend to make all three of equal length. The earliest name of the symbol was Nun, whence comes the Greek ny (vu). The sound of n varies according to the point at which the contact of the tongue with the roof of the mouth is made; it may be dental, alveolar, palatal or guttural. In Sanskrit these four sounds are distinguished by different symbols; the last two occur in combination with stops or affricates of the same series. The French or German n when standing by itself is dental, the English alveolar, i.e. pronounced like the English t and d against the sockets of the teeth instead of the teeth themselves. The guttural nasal is written in English ng as in ring; for the palatal n as in lynch there is no separate symbol. The sound of n stands in the same relation to d as m stands to b; both are ordinarily voiced and the mouth position for both is the same, but in pronouncing n the nasal passage is left open, so that the sound of n can be continued while that of d cannot. This is best observed by pronouncing syllables where the consonant comes last as in and id. When the nasal passage is closed, as when one has a bad cold, m and n cannot be pronounced; attempts to pronounce moon result only in bood. Two important points arise in connexion with nasals: (r) sonant nasals, (2) nasalization of vowels. The discovery of sonant nasals by Dr Karl Brugman in 1876 (Curtius, Studien, 9, pp. 285-338) explained many facts of language which had been hitherto obscure and elucidated many difficulties in the Indo-European vowel system. It had been observed, for ex-ample, that the same original negative prefix was represented in Sanskrit by a, Greek by a, in Latin by in and in Germanic by un, and these differences had not been accounted for satisfactorily. Dr Brugman argued-that in these and similar cases the syllable was made by the consonant alone, and the nasal so used was termed a sonant nasal and written n, In most cases Sanskrit and Greek lost the nasal sound altogether and replaced it by a vowel a, a, while in Latin and Germanic a vowel was developed independently before the nasal. In the accusative singular of consonant stems Sans. Want, Gr. aroha, Lat. pedem, Sanskrit and Greek did not, as generally, agree, but it was shown that in such cases there were originally two forms according to the nature of the sound beginning the next word in the sentence. Thus an original Indo-European *palm, would not be treated precisely in the same way if the next word began with a vowel as it would when a consonant followed. Sanskrit had adopted the form used before vowels, Greek the form before consonants and each had dropped the alternative form. The second point—the nasalizing of vowels—is difficult for an Englishman to under-stand or to produce, as the sounds do not exist in his language. Thus in learning to pronounce French he tends to replace the nasalized vowels by the nearest sounds in English, making the Fr. on a nasalized vowel (o), into Eng. ong, a vowel followed by a guttural consonant. The nasalized vowels are produced by drawing forward the uvula, the " tab " at the end of the soft palate, so that the breath escapes through the nose as well as the mouth. In the French nasalized vowels, however, many phoneticians hold that, besides the leaving of the nasal passage open, there is a change in the position of the tongue in passing from a to a. The nasalized vowels are generally written with a hook below, upon the analogy of the transliteration of such sounds in the Slavonic languages, but as the same symbol is often used to distinguish an " open " vowel from a " close " one, the use is not without ambiguity. On the other hand, it is not admissible to write a for the nasalized vowel in languages which have accent signs, e.g. Lithuanian. It is possible to nasalize some consonants as well as vowels; nasalized spirants play animportant part in the so-called " Yankee " pronunciation of Americans. (P. Gi.) NAAS (pron. Nace, as in place), a market town of Co. Kildare, Ireland, 20 m. S.W. from Dublin on branches of the Great Southern and Western railway and of the Grand Canal. Pop. (19or) 3836. It is situated among the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, close to the river Liffey. The town is of great antiquity, and was a residence of the kings of Leinster, the place of whose assemblies is marked by a neighbouring rath or mound. Naas returned two members to the Irish parliament from 1559 until the union in ',Soo. Of a castle taken by Cromwell in r65o, and of several former abbeys, there are no remains. Punchestown racecourse, 21 M. S.E., is the scene of welt-known steeplechases.
End of Article: MZABITES

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